It seems we can always turn to a popular old melody for some familiar sing-along action. The lyrics of this tune have a bit of an icky past, harking back to the American Civil War, but like most public domain songs to stand the test of time, the simplistic melody often reminds us of childhood. In “Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me” you’ll find the major third at 0:04, on the lyrics “Shoo” and “fly.”
The very first time I can recall hearing this song on my parents’ turntable, I was struck by that groovy little bass riff between the lyric lines “tell you something” and “I think you’ll understand,” and repeated throughout the verses in the same spot. What makes this little flurry of notes so clever is the sudden change in meter (coming out of the slow, steady rocking on the root and sometimes the fifth) and the double emphasis on the leading tones.